Everyone’s Favorite Scare – Vagina Dentata

Teeth (2007). Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. Pictured: Jess Weixler

Once I read a blurb about this film Teeth, I knew I had to experience.  Genre listed is horror which is probably ascribed by a male cadre.  The premise about a girl with this particular quality placed outside folklore in modern times is something curious.

Dawn O’Keefe (younger version played by Ava Ryen Plumb, adult Dawn is Jess Weixler) wades in a pool with her soon-to-be stepbrother whose devilish tone belies a perverted older boy.  As the two adults converse lounging in the front lawn, Brad shoots in dismay holding a never severed finger.  What had the bad boy done?  A blank expression on young Dawn returns the frenzied scene.  Years later, Dawn speaks about the value of abstinence to Jesus freaks.  A dark haired teenager Tobey (Hale Appleman) visually digests Dawn in an impure way whose awkward bumbling tries to communicate an innocence.  Director Mitchell Lichtenstein establishes an angelic purity that subsequently becomes ravaged by abusive men in a way that moves from camp to female horror.  Every possible instance of abuse becomes inflicted upon Dawn.  Only in threatening sexual moments does vagina dentata reveal its teeth and sever the object, finger or penis.  Dawn never fully emotionally addresses each abuse but becomes emboldened to destroy male members in revenge.  The encounters are ridiculous.

Dawn cannot protect herself as her mother is very ill, and her stepfather is impotent in strength.  The stepbrother only sexually trusts anal sex since his childhood moment that Dawn had been too young to recall until a crucial moment.  Laughed at what the dog did in that scenario, but overall Teeth’s delayed distribution of 2 years is not wholly unwarranted.  Lichtenstein has mostly acting credits to his experience.  His lens is not amateurish, and his inspiration to develop this story is bizarre.  I think these topics are delicate, and a true talent could balance the weapon of choice and how it was employed.

Vagina dentata (“toothed vagina”) awakens a castration anxiety in men.  In some literature claims vagina dentata warded off rape because it would be activated in the unwillingly partner.  This fear construction manifested by men shows a greater alarm at female sexuality in general.  By making women creatures of penile violence, mistreatment of them exteriorly seems almost acceptible.  A better writer/director could have retained camp without belittling true victims of sexual cruelity.

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